In my previous column, I described, Why your favorite service organization is going out of business! I discussed why many are struggling to attract new members. What the biggest obstacles are, and the biggest mistakes being made that inhibit membership growth.


Creating attraction

In this column are some additional suggestions to attract new members. And, I’ll tell you that the second biggest problem facing service organizations is, retaining existing members. Interestingly, I believe these two issues are interwoven. When the goals of a service organization are clear, and the objectives reasonable, then member activities can be structured in a way that attract members and (perhaps) guests to participate.

It is within this interactive experience that a sense of belonging, fellowship, giving back and relationships is formed. It is this feeling that existing members and potential members will be attracted to and desire to be a part of. I have never once developed a new relationship by sitting next to someone at a meal. However, when working to build a Habitat house (all day), I shared something special with that group of my fellow club members — that becomes lasting!





Additional ideas to attract new and retain existing organization members:

  • Hold contests with prizes awarded to members that attract new members to join.
  • Frequently ask members to reach out to their sphere-of-influence to invite a prospect/member to a future meeting. Both member and guest should be formally introduced and recognized.
  • Use networking. People know people who know people. Identify people on the move in your community. Invite them to be your guest at an upcoming meeting of your club.
  • SEEDING — Encourage junior versions of your organization be formed. This can be done at schools, churches or to other venues. Mentor their growth. Let these junior club members be ambassadors for your club and/or to join your club when they become of age.
  • LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE — This strategy emphasizes true leadership. The following leaders will be expected to bring in one new member prospect X times during the coming year: Club President, Membership Chair, Committee heads and the Board of Directors.
  • Your club’s own membership building ideas!



The two most important words that help to retain members of service club organizations are EXPECTATIONS and ENGAGEMENT. It is always best, if during the recruiting and orientation process, that prospective new members are made aware of what they should expect from the club and what the club should expect from the new member. When expectations are in alignment, club members and candidates are seldom disappointed.


Responsibility to engage

There are some retention issues that are impossible to avoid such as job changes, relocations, family, and health issues. However, the biggest factor impacting retention is members who simply lose interest, because of lack of engagement. Therefore, it is incumbent upon club leadership, at all levels, to keep members engaged. Without that, retention will always be an issue.



These are the problems threatening many service organizations’ ability to survive. However, as you can see, with some effort by club leadership, engagement, and acceptance of responsibility, it does not have to be this way.

Spread the word. You CAN prevent your favorite service organization from going out of business!



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Alan Adler coaches individuals and successful high-performing business leaders to help accelerate their personal and professional growth. In addition to one-on-one coaching, Alan hosts noncompetitive, confidential, business-owner mentor advisory groups. Click here to schedule a meeting with him. As an entrepreneur, he has started three businesses, including his current, Alan Adler & Associates, LLC. His experience also includes working in marketing communication roles, (with senior management) at two of the largest corporations in the world.  You can find his books, Getting the Fish to Swim to YOU & Keeping Them in YOUR Boat, and UpStream, on Amazon. Alan lives in Huntersville, NC with his wife Mindy. They have two grown children, two grandchildren, and a rescue dog named Bentley.






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